Schroeder v. Freeland, 14237.

Citation188 F.2d 517
Decision Date26 April 1951
Docket NumberNo. 14237.,14237.
PartiesSCHROEDER et al. v. FREELAND et al.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)

George Evens and Roy M. Harrop, Omaha, Neb., for appellants.

Richard C. Peck, Plattsmouth, Neb. (George M. Tunison, Omaha, Neb., on brief), for appellees William W. Freeland and James Olsen, Jr.

W. W. Wenstrand, Omaha, Neb. (Reed O'Hanlon, Sr., Blair, Neb., W. C. Fraser and Thomas Marshall, Omaha, Neb., on brief), for appellees Margaret A. Williams and George Chamberlain.

Before GARDNER, Chief Judge, and WOODROUGH and THOMAS, Circuit Judges.

GARDNER, Chief Judge.

This was an action in ejectment brought by appellants to eject appellees from certain lands lying on the westerly side of the Missouri River, the westerly bank of that river being the easterly boundary of the lands in question. The lands are in the State of Nebraska as the boundary between Iowa and Nebraska is now established. All the parties are citizens of the State of Nebraska. The parties will be referred to as they were designated in the trial court.

Plaintiffs alleged that they had acquired title to the lands described in their complaint by reason of certain tax deeds issued to them by the County Treasurer of Harrison County, Iowa; that the title so acquired had been quieted and confirmed by a decree of the District Court in Harrison County, Iowa, in an action wherein the appellees William W. Freeland and Margaret A. Williams were parties defendant; that the lands were ceded to Nebraska under the Iowa-Nebraska Boundary Compact of 1943, Acts 50th Gen.Assem.Iowa, c. 306; Laws Neb. 1943, c. 130, and are now located in Washington County, Nebraska; that at the time of the proceedings culminating in the issuance of the tax deeds on which plaintiffs rely the land was all located in and was a part of Harrison County, Iowa.

The defendants in their separate answer challenged the jurisdiction of the court; alleged legal title in the defendants Freeland and Williams, the other defendants being in occupancy of the lands as tenants; alleged that the defendants Freeland and Williams and their grantors and predecessors in interest, had been in continuous possession and ownership of the lands in an unbroken chain of title since 1873; that the lands were neither ceded to Nebraska nor affected by the 1943 Acts referred to in plaintiffs' complaint because they had been a part of the State of Nebraska for many years prior thereto; that Harrison County, Iowa, was without jurisdiction of either the subject matter or the parties in the suit to quiet title to said lands; that the lands described as formerly being in Harrison County, Iowa, had gradually eroded and become non-existent and the lands claimed by the defendants were lands accreted to Nebraska and to the original patented lands of defendants' grantors by the gradual shifting of the Missouri River eastward, not by avulsion but gradually.

The case was tried to the court without a jury and resulted in judgment of dismissal based upon findings of fact and conclusions of law determining the issues on the merits in favor of the defendants. In a memorandum opinion, D.C., 89 F.Supp. 169, the court expressed the view that it had jurisdiction of the controversy. The court found that the lands were a part of the State of Iowa in the year 1858 and were then on the east side of the west bank of the Missouri River but that since that time the Missouri River had continually and gradually moved eastward so that all of the said real estate had been cut away by the river so as to destroy its identity and at and prior to the year 1934 the lands were not in existence as a part of the State of Iowa; that after the year 1858 the river moved gradually eastward and by a process of gradual attrition and erosion cut away all of said lands and at the same time gradually deposited the soil so eroded on the Nebraska or west bank of the river and by the process of accretion added the same to the lands situated in Washington County, Nebraska, and owned by the defendants Margaret A. Williams and William W. Freeland; that the eastern movement of the Missouri River and the process of erosion of the east bank and accretion to the west river bank continued until the year 1945, when the channel of the river and its course were stabilized and fixed at its present location by action and work of the Corps of Engineers of the United States; that all the lands claimed to be owned by plaintiffs had been eroded and cut away by gradual action of the Missouri River and had ceased to exist in the State of Iowa prior to 1934, and was in and a part of the State of Nebraska prior to said date; that the taxes purported to be assessed and levied thereon by the State of Iowa and its subdivision Harrison County, were void and of no effect and that tax deeds issued by said Harrison County in the State of Iowa, to the plaintiffs, and all acts and doings of the officials of Harrison County in the State of Iowa, pretending to foreclose said taxes and conveying the lands, were and are ineffectual and void and said tax deeds conveyed no right or title.

The court then found that the defendant Freeland was the owner in fee simple of a part of the lands claimed by the plaintiffs and that he and his grantors had continuously owned and were in possession of them since the issuance of the described government patents dated respectively May 15, 1873 and May 15, 1875, and for more than ten years last past; that likewise the defendant Margaret A. Williams was the owner in fee simple of the balance of the lands claimed by plaintiffs and that she and her grantors had had continuous ownership and possession since May 15, 1873; that in the year 1943, when the settlement of the boundary dispute between the States of Nebraska and Iowa was determined, all of the lands in controversy were situated in and were a part of the State of Nebraska and were therefore not affected by the acts of the respective legislatures of Nebraska and Iowa, nor by the act of Congress approving such acts.

Based upon these and other findings the court concluded that plaintiffs were entitled to no relief and accordingly entered judgment adjudging that plaintiffs be perpetually enjoined from claiming title or other interest in the properties, and quieting title thereto in the defendants Freeland and Williams.

In seeking reversal plaintiffs contend that the findings of the court are not sustained by substantial evidence and that the court erred in various other particulars but in our view of the case it will not be necessary to consider these contentions separately. However, at the very threshold of this controversy we are met with a challenge to the court's jurisdiction. District Courts of the United States are not courts of general jurisdiction but of limited jurisdiction. This jurisdiction is to be exercised only within the limitations defined by the Constitution and Congress and the question of lack of federal jurisdiction may be raised at any time, either in the trial or appellate court. As an appellate court we must satisfy ourselves that the trial court had jurisdiction of the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
8 cases
  • Lowry v. INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD, ETC., 16935.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 22 Septiembre 1958
    ...trial or appellate stage. McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 1936, 298 U. S. 178, 56 S.Ct. 780, 80 L.Ed. 1135; Schroeder v. Freeland, 8 Cir., 1951, 188 F.2d 517; Murphy v. Hotel & Restaurant Employees & Bartenders International Union, D.C.Mich.1951, 102 F. Supp. 488; 54 Am.Jur., Uni......
  • Lynch v. Porter, 71-1069.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 3 Agosto 1971
    ...2d 123 (8 Cir. 1968); Texaco-Cities Service Pipe Line Co. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 283 F.2d 144 (8 Cir. 1960); Schroeder v. Freeland, 188 F.2d 517 (8 Cir. 1951). It is a recognized principle of law that a suit for restoration of the trust res from a trustee seeks enforcement of a rig......
  • Garroutte v. General Motors Corporation, Civ. A. No. 402.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Arkansas
    • 21 Diciembre 1959
    ...and the jurisdiction is to be exercised only within the limitations defined by the Constitution and Congress. Schroeder v. Freeland, 8 Cir., 188 F.2d 517-519. The District Courts are charged with the duty of enforcing the jurisdictional limitations. McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corpo......
  • Linscott v. Linscott, Civ. No. 1-11.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • 7 Julio 1951
    ...This jurisdiction is to be exercised only within the limitations defined by the Constitution and Congress * * *." Schroeder v. Freeland, 8 Cir., 1951, 188 F.2d 517, 519. The motion to dismiss should be ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT